An outstanding and intriguing combination of folk music, Norse myths, Jazz and Celtic legends. This conversation between the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia, over 4 different pieces, really showcased the explorations of contemporary jazz.
Arild Andersen began the story with a beautiful composition of bass harmonics; the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra gradually weaved its way into the sound before unleashing its full force. The real excitement, however, came with the array of fantastic solos, the first of these being on the trombone. All I can say is who would have thought the trombone would be capable of a bebop-esque scat? The speed and melody he brought to the trombone was unreal and I’ve never seen someone get so many notes out of a trombone so quickly. To follow was an amazing percussion solo: if you’ve ever been given the shaker to play in the school orchestra and thought it was a dud role, percussionist Paolo Vinaccia will most definitely make you think again. This insane percussion solo, performed using only his hands, involving a one minute interlude using only a shaker, was mastery and the dramatic interplay between him and the bass made for a mesmerizing climax to their performance.
The only thing I could critique would be the venue: it felt as though it didn’t do such an exciting performance justice and perhaps a more playful venue would have better complimented the excitement of the performance. It felt a bit like watching Nirvana play at the Royal Opera House: jazz isn’t something old and fragile and shouldn’t be treated as something that is. Perhaps, maybe, this is a reason why not many young people aren’t or think they aren’t in to jazz, which is a shame. So, maybe a more relaxed venue would have attracted a more mixed crowd.
Overall, it was a wonderfully back-to-front masterpiece where the trumpets and piano held the beat , whilst the bassist and the trombonist took centre stage and showed us what amazing rhythmic and melodic talent their instruments are capable of. It had the charm of classical jazz whilst being enticing and contemporary at the same time.